Waterloo resident Lyn McGinnis has published the results of a second accessibility audit in Waterloo Region, this time evaluating buildings along King Street in downtown Kitchener.
McGinnis found that 10 businesses out of 87 received a failing grade for being inaccessible to people in wheelchairs. The results showed a stark difference from the first audit of Uptown Waterloo, which received 43 F’s out of 100 businesses.
Most locations received a B-grade for having a level entrance, but no automatic door. McGinnis said that B-level accessibility still presents significant challenges for some people.
“There are a variety of people out there with a variety of abilities,” McGinnis explained to The Morning Edition host, Craig Norris on Wednesday morning. “If you have three people in wheelchairs, one is going to have a lot of difficulty and the other person is going to be alright, and the third won’t bother. Some are going to find a B more challenging than others.”
McGinnis said he can understand that some business owners may be opposed to the idea of installing wheelchair accessible features, such as ramps, automatic doors and elevators because they can come at considerable expense.
He added that many local business owners are renting space from landlords and have little control over making those changes.
“Frankly, what I would like to see is, I’d like to move the conversation up the food chain and find out who the landlords are and also look at what municipal politicians have to say,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis added that lack of awareness by business owners can translate into lost customers.
With two accessibility audits published on Facebook, McGinnis is now considering conducting audits of Cambridge neighbouhoods. McGinnis says he’s been approached about evaluating schools and residences as well.
“The first motivation for doing this was just to raise awareness,” McGinnis said. “I think the majority of people aren’t aware of this as an issue.”